How do you feel when the warm months start to disappear and the cold dark days arrive?
Do you feel less like your moderately cheerful self, heavy like someone dropped a water-filled log on you while you were sleeping and you can’t get it off, or do you just feel tired and can’t quite figure out why?
If any of these sound familiar, you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—a type of depression that occurs as the seasons change. Often referred to as ‘seasonal depression.’
SAD is a real condition that affects millions of people each year. But how can you beat it?
The good news is that there are several ways to combat seasonal depression and get back to feeling like yourself again without breaking the bank or relying on prescription medications.
4 Simple Steps to Beat the Winter Blues
Step 1: Acknowledge How You’re Feeling
You know your body well so you’ll be the first to notice when you’re feeling a bit off.
Yes, off days do happen sometimes, however, if those off days last for more than a few days or a week then it’s time to stop everything and listen carefully to your body.
Something is triggering this feeling and even though you may not know what that thing is right away, know that it’s important to take a moment and acknowledge how you’re feeling.
Once you take the time to attend to yourself, you can start doing something about this feeling, which is the next step.
Step 2: Go Outside
It’s no secret that natural sunlight and being in nature help to turn around the blues.
Studies have shown that spending just 10 or 15 minutes outside in nature each day can make a big difference in how you feel mentally and emotionally.
So, go outside and take a walk, explore your neighborhood, sit in the park, or lay out on the grass – do anything that will help you reset and reconnect to nature and yourself.
This step is a practical step, so unlike the first step, you can’t just imagine yourself outside and feel the benefits. You need to physically go outside and breathe in the fresh air, outside.
I’m a homebody, especially when the weather starts changing. My body doesn’t like the cold and I do anything and everything to stay away from it.
That type of behavior doesn’t always work out to be the best decision, so I have to force myself to venture into the outside world, even if it’s just for a ten-minute walk.
I understand the difficulty of going outside when all you want to do is stay wrapped in bed under some thick blankets.
Stay away from the bed and dark spaces, they only enable seasonal depression to take over.
So, put on something warm, lace up those boots and go for a walk.
Step 3: Focus on Something You Enjoy
Since your brain can only fully focus on one thing at a time, allow it to focus on something you really enjoy.
Things like reading a good book, playing an instrument, taking a hot bath, writing in your journal, exercising – anything that sparks some happiness in your life, do it now and do it often.
Allow yourself to be fully immersed in that activity so that the depressive thoughts or feelings can’t creep in.
This is how you will slowly retrain your brain to focus on positive things and how you will slowly start to feel a bit better.
Step 4: Slow Down
We’re conditioned to go fast, faster, and even try to be the fastest, but going fast is detrimental to our mental health.
It’s okay to stop, breathe, and allow yourself to get some rest.
Hit the pause button and give yourself permission to do nothing.
Don’t be scared of how much time you’re taking off because it could be just what you need to get your head in a better place.
The winter months are usually the months where we feel we have to do everything, achieve every goal, and go a million miles per hour because the year is ending and the New Year is quickly approaching.
Don’t do this to yourself another year.
Don’t succumb to the pressure of having to be productive all the time. It’s okay to let go a bit and take care of yourself.
Take a few hours, days, or a week off and re-energize yourself so you can start fresh.
The best way to beat seasonal depression is by refocusing on yourself and taking care of YOU.
You may be doing way too much and that pressure you feel is only going to make your mental health worse.
So take a break and shift the focus back to yourself.
It won’t be easy, but with some practice and daily work, you can beat seasonal depression for good!
Bonus Tip: Plan Ahead
Start planning how to beat seasonal depression before it even starts.
It will be difficult to think of things you enjoy doing while you’re in an upside-down mood so make a list of everything you enjoy doing and start incorporating them into your day.
When you start to feel a little off, go for a walk and then grab your list, pick one thing and dive deep into what you enjoy.
If your joy is cooking, cook your heart out and then share it with the people you love being around.
If you’re an artist, draw, paint, write, dance, and do what makes your brain happy, then either keep it to yourself or share it with the people who see and appreciate you for being exactly who you are.
It’s imperative that you only surround yourself with genuine people, the ones you feel safe around. Their presence will remind you that you are alive and living your life, even if it feels like you may be stuck in a temporary loop.
By taking the initiative to plan ahead, you can be proactive in understanding your emotions when they start to change; this will empower you to effectively manage these feelings before they become too much.
Seasonal Depression Can Be Managed
Everything in life is temporary, even life itself is temporary.
Allow yourself to believe that no matter what’s happening in your life, everything will always work out for the best.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with the darkness, allow yourself to redirect it and use it as an opportunity to welcome more positive energy into your life.
If you’re feeling the effects of seasonal depression now, do these simple steps to help yourself get back to positivity.
It’s a simple redirection of energy and you have all the power you need to make it happen.
In the comments below, let me know what you’ve done in the past to stop seasonal depression in its tracks.
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Questions You May Have
Can seasonal depression be fixed?
Yes, seasonal depression can be managed with the right tools and techniques. It may take some practice but utilizing the steps outlined in this article will help you to beat seasonal depression for good.
What is the main cause of seasonal depression?
Seasonal depression is caused by a combination of factors including decreased sunlight, shorter days, chilly temperatures, and an increase in stress levels. Additionally, seasonal changes can trigger hormones that lead to depression.
How can I prevent seasonal depression?
The best way to prevent seasonal depression is to take time for yourself each day and do something you enjoy. Additionally, plan ahead and make a list of activities that you can do when the seasonal depression starts to set in. Finally, surround yourself with positive, supportive people who will remind you how much potential and how much love is out there for you.
How can I stop winter depression?
The best way to stop winter depression is to make sure you are getting enough natural sunlight and that you are engaging in activities that bring joy into your life.
How do you fight SAD?
The best way to fight Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is to practice self-care and make sure you are doing activities that bring joy into your life.